Home // Men’s Health Tips // Lower Stress // Tackling COVID-induced Grocery Shopping Anxiety with Kindness

Tackling COVID-induced Grocery Shopping Anxiety with Kindness

by | Apr 15, 2020 | Lower Stress | 0 comments

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

grocery shopping with blue latex gloves

Social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic is creating some elevated stress and anxiety for many, even in menial chores like grocery shopping. In one jarring hour, I experience thoughts of hyperawareness in the new COVID reality and turn to kindness to cope.

My story starts at 8am on a Saturday amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Vancouver. There’s about a cupful of milk left in the fridge at home. Crap! We need to go out shopping, which I have grown to loathe. Maybe we ought to stock up on some groceries now when fewer people are in the store. Grocery shopping at this hour should be a cinch, or so I think.

My partner and I leave the apartment while I tuck away my blue latex gloves and a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my sweater pocket. We uncomfortably ride the elevator down twenty-three floors, wondering how many people have been in here and who has touched what. After getting rid of recyclables and garbage in the basement, we attempt to lather up with hand sanitizer from the dispenser that the building provides, but it’s empty.

We walk in a single file instead of side-by-side uphill — just about the only outdoor cardio activity I’ve done in the last two weeks. A masked lady says good morning while keeping her distance. My partner says, good morning back. I give the nod and keep on walking, taking deep breaths as the cold breeze sweeps behind my back. Should I have worn a mask outside today? I pull my hoodie over my head as an automatic response.

Is it currently in stock?
In-stock list of essential items at the store entrance — updated daily

Everyone takes turns to shop

Standing about two arm’s length apart, people wait in line to enter the store while a store clerk stands at the top of the line by the door, letting one person in as one person leaves. No one seems to be wearing a facial mask, but a young lady has her scarf wrapped around her face and neck.

We split up the shopping list as we stand in line, checking out the “list of essential items” at the start of the line. On my way in, I hesitate to grab a shopping basket, but I do anyway. The store has milk and, surprisingly, toilet paper. Still no hand sanitizers and thermometers. I grab a bottle of honey from the top shelf, but my partner says we have more than enough honey at home. I place it back. How many people have done the same thing with their bare hands?

Meanwhile, an elderly lady with unkempt hair and a blank stare on her face stands motionless a few feet away from me, waiting for me to leave the aisle. It creeps me out and, yet, there’s something very human when people go shopping in their pajamas!

No shopping list equals impulse buying and tension

The lineup of physical distancing customers to the cash register snakes through the dairy aisle. My partner hints we should get some yogurt as he keeps our place in the queue. I pick up a couple of jars. Then he suggests what’s for dinner tonight and points at the cold meats section.

I go over and pick up a pack of chicken breast and, stopping halfway as I step back, a bundle of fresh sausages — just as well since we’re already here. One basket turns quickly into two basketfuls of groceries, and it feels like we’re hoarding.

At the checkout, the lady at the cash register politely asks us to stay farther away from her. There’s no plexiglass barrier on her till. We take two steps back, forming a triangle with the clerk. Awkward!

The clerk places three plastic bags on the table. As my partner bags our groceries, I tap my credit card on the card reader, but it won’t read it. I slide it in the slot and punch in my PIN code. Dang it, I touched the keypad! My partner snaps at me to put the receipt away as I frantically stuff it in one of the bags. He just wants to get home as much as I do.

unpacking grocery bags on the floor
Unpacking grocery bags on the floor, not on the kitchen counter

Breathing and counting our blessings

Back in the bubble of our own home, we wash our hands long enough to play the Happy Birthday song twice in our heads while taking a few big, deep breaths. My partner leaves the grocery bags on the floor — not on the kitchen counter, which is probably good practice in any case. He puts away the groceries, wiping each item clean with bleach solution.

It dawns on us how A Guy’s Guide to Mental Health an hour of shopping for groceries has become and lament at the irritation we experience with one another. We take control of our thoughts and make a promise to better support each other when we go grocery shopping again. Not only are we buying groceries after all, but we’re also making a conscious effort to be mindful of protecting ourselves and others from COVID-19.

My partner and I can do better by shopping for our groceries online with contactless delivery. We can plan for our weekly meal kit delivery service to minimize the time we spend shopping at stores.

We remind ourselves to focus more on being patient with one another and not on the extraordinary burden of anxiety amid quarantine and social isolation. Everyone is experiencing COVID-19 anxiety along with us — we’re afraid we may unknowingly catch it or spread it. An act of kindness and patience to ourselves and others can get us through it.

What are you worrying about right now amid the COVID-19 outbreak? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Are you trying to snack healthier? If so, we’ve got your back!

Download the free “Snack Hacks” ebook right now.

This article is made possible by the support of generous sponsors.

The Robert and Viktoria Little Foundation logo
British Columbia government logo
Timothy Serrano
Timothy Serrano

Tim is the Digital Marketing Director of the CMHF. He leads the digital team with marketing expertise and experience in producing content that inspires Canadian men to live healthier. He lives in Vancouver with his partner of 28 years and loves to cook when he’s not watching Korean dramas.

Do You Like This Blog?

As a national charity, we depend on your donations to provide our services to Canadians. Every contribution counts.

Don’t Change Much is a proven health resource inspiring men and their families to live healthier. With reliable information and easy health tips, we know every guy and their family can make small changes that will greatly impact their health.

Let’s Talk!

Did you enjoy this article? Let us know in the comments.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our comments are moderated and are made live after they’ve been reviewed. If you disagree with anything in the article or comments please do let us know, but be polite so we can have a constructive discussion where everyone has the opportunity to learn.

More From

Lower Stress

How a Shift in Perspective Changed My Life

How a Shift in Perspective Changed My Life

Living Better with a South Asian Twist Changing one simple word in one simple question made all the difference for me. I was always kind and generous. I was always there for my wife and kids. Yet my life had gone from full and happy to crappy and chaotic. My wife of...

Hosting a Free Online Holiday Party – The ‘How-to’ Guide

Hosting a Free Online Holiday Party – The ‘How-to’ Guide

This year it seems Santa has decided to punish us for global warming, leaving the toilet seat up, or some “who-knows-what” naughtiness. The big lump of coal in our stockings: Being unable to get together with friends and family during the holidays. Well, call us nasty...

Stress-Slaying Hacks for Last-Minute Gift Shopping

Stress-Slaying Hacks for Last-Minute Gift Shopping

It’s the most stress-ridden, holly jolly time of the year, especially if, like most guys, you still have plenty of last-minute shopping to do before the big holiday. While the average Canadian plans on spending $630 on gifts, it’s not about how much the gifts cost....

Pin It on Pinterest